Author’s Note: I realize some people prefer the terms “Hispanic” or “Chicano.” I personally refer to myself as “Mexican-American” since I’m a first-generation immigrant. I know we all have our preference, but for the purpose of this article, I’m sticking with Ann Romney’s terminology.
Ann Romney is not running for office, but her recent remarks about the Latino community show the Right’s mentality on minority votes and, on a personal level, showed her contempt for people like me.
At a recent luncheon, Mrs. Romney went on about how Latinos need to understand that the GOP, and her husband in particular, are working in the best interest of Latinos in this country. She gushed over how much damage another Obama presidency will do to us and how we’re just uninformed about current issues and policies.
It’s us, not them, she tells us.
I like to think my arguments are better than just flinging insults or calling names, but I would like to vent a little steam before starting by saying that Ann Romney sounds like any abusive husband on a Lifetime movie telling his battered wife that it’s her fault she’s on the ground doubled over.
Let me explain. Ann Romney said:
“I spoke to women last night and I wanted women to understand how important this election is for their children. But as I was sitting backstage listening, I thought, it’s also very important that the Latino community recognize how important this election is for them.”
I like how she talks about women and mothers and that need to protect the family but seems to think Latinos don’t have those concerns or are somehow different. It sounds like nitpicking her grammar, but it actually makes sense a little later.
“And [Latinos] are mistaken if they think they are going to be better off with Barack Obama as their president. There really is only one way for prosperity, for small business, and that is, this is the simplest way I can say this: If Mitt Romney wins, America wins.”
Mrs. Romney’s assertion that helping small businesses is the best way to help the country falls apart for two reasons. Firstly, she assumes that corporate profits equal social prosperity. They don’t. The top earners in this country have had incredible success in the last several years, but the middle class hasn’t seen significant improvement in THIRTY YEARS. Small businesses are another matter. Yes, they could be doing better, but the self-serving nature of the Romney/Ryan plan is another case. It will hurt not just Latinos, but everyone.
It’s when Mrs. Romney starts talking about why Latinos are specifically deaf to the GOP that I start to put the pieces together.
“You’d better really look at your future and figure out who’s going to be the guy that’s going to make it better for you and your children, and there is only one answer… It really is a message that would resonate well if [Latinos] could just get past some of their biases that have been there from the Democratic machines that have made us look like we don’t care about this community. And that is not true. We very much care about you and your families and the opportunities that are there for you and your families.”
If I may, I would like to address Ann Romney directly.
February 10, 2012
It seems the last video got a lot of attention and a fair amount of heat for a lot of Hispanics going after a single white woman. Except we didn’t do it because she was white. Let me explain the concept of “racism” and “bigotry” and why I will not st
This story blew up in less than 24 hours. Everyone here is talking about it. Please watch, share, and read some of the comments on Youtube. It’s really hilarious when people try to pass off racism as logic and science.
October 25, 2011
The Fox story goes something like this. Schools are banning Halloween celebrations because they don’t want kids eating candy and they want to not exclude anyone who doesn’t believe in the celebration, i.e. immigrants. But allow me to let Ren and Stimpy here to say it far more stupidly than I ever could.
This, of course, ignores various points. Let me go over them rapid-fire style.
The schools are banning candy to help kids eat healthier.
The celebrations are not being banned. They’re being moved to after-school so the parties won’t disrupt classes.
Likewise, kids can still wear costumes, but so as not to distract from valuable class time, the kids may wear the costumes after school.
Some of the kids cannot afford costumes because of tough economic situations, and this led to hurt feelings and isolation. Worrying about other people’s feelings is NOT a liberal conspiracy. It’s called basic human decency.
Now let me get to the one major point of contention for me.
Immigrants are offended by Halloween? If anything, I think Halloween is TAME by the standards of most immigrants. Take me for instance. I come from a culture that doesn’t celebrate Halloween, but instead has a holiday where we lay out altars dressed in food, flowers, and booze so the spirits of our dead relatives can visit us. We INVITE the ghosts in. Little Timmy in his Situation costume? Lame. We deal with real ghosts.
The only reason I can assume an immigrant would be offended or feel left out by Halloween is if he or she did not know what it was. Seeing things like spirits and magic treated like a kid’s game might be offensive to some who hold on to beliefs that treat them as real, and I’m sure a lot of pagans and Wiccans take offense to things like the portrayal of witches. The celebration’s spread around the world, though it’s only here in the States that it seems to have attained the kind of holy reverence once reserved for Christmas. Halloween is not some sacred rite here. It’s a fully commercialized day where kids get hopped up on sugar, get to play dress-up, and women are made to dress like pseudo-hookers.
War on Halloween? Please. If we immigrants are somehow tainting the purity of this Americanized pagan harvest observance, it’s only because we know what the season is really about.
And now, in an effort to make you think nothing but good thoughts, here’s Michael Winslow doing Led Zeppelin with only his sound effects and a guitar. This is the sound of pure, distilled awesome.
July 28, 2011
This will very likely be the last Divine by Zero until August. We’re moving and still need to pack a lot of stuff. Plus, looks like I’ve got another class to teach next week, so time is going to be tight.I will however be posting the Weekly Muse story on Sunday and the new poll will go up on Monday. This will overlap for the rest of the feature’s run.
Well, let’s get started, shall we?
- Want to know how to build your own Wall-E? Here you go.
- The images of newly web gay couples in New York are touching and a testament to the power of love. Way to go, folks!
- When she’s not covered in glitter and assorted party fouls, Ke$ha is actually a pretty attractive young woman. Further proof the make-up and glam only hide what you are, ladies!
- Michelle Bachmann does not support gays. At all. Her district has actually implemented measures to even make it impossible to help the victims of gay bullying. The result? Her home state has to deal with a rash of teen suicides because she and her ilk are too conservative to reach out and help others.
- Fabio is the new Old Spice Guy. But the REAL Old Spice Guy has some words for Fabio.
- Let this be a lesson to all. Body image is seriously warped. Take a look at a classic Bond Girl, one of the standards of beauty and womanhood for decades, with the new standard. Women used to look like, well… WOMEN!
- Transforming clothing? Interesting… Check out the slightly NSFW video.
- Okay, I’m going to feel really sick in a moment… Mitt Romney has MEXICAN ROOTS?!
- What is courage? It seems the definition has changed in the last few years.
- I cannot wait for Arkham City, and the new trailer with the Penguin has be salivating. Especially the little bit at the end of the clip…
- I’ve lived in small rooms. College dorms come to mind. The singles in Hogate Hall at DePauw University are basically closets with furniture, but nothing beats this ultra-thin home in Asia.
- And finally… a movie with Summer Glau that features geeks fighting the forces of evil through LARPing? Why not!? I’ll see you tomorrow!
May 6, 2011
When my grandfather died a few weeks ago, it was the third of three people (two family, one a friend), that I had to say goodbye to. It’s been a rough year, what with the financial con-job I worked at for a few months, the wedding next year, and upcoming novel complete with contest, I’ve been stressed like no other time in my life. I wrote two thesis as an undergrad in one year and I still don’t think this matches that level stress.
But yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, Mary’s last day of class, and I felt like cooking something.
I was going to make fish, but I figured I could make some pico de gallo, salchicha, and… I was stuck for a while. What dish could really capture Mexican pride and simulataniously satisfy a 12-hour work day full of class, work, and research papers?
My grandfather gave me the answer…
When he cooked, the man COOKED. Years ago, he gave me the recipe for his carne asada, Mexican grilled meat, and I’ve tried to make it for a long time with little success in replicating his unique flavor. I mean, the meat was good, but it wasn’t the same. It was like a photocopy of a photocopy. It just didn’t feel right.
I think I got it.
When my grandparents cook, there is never such a thing as a recipe. They go more by instinct than anything else. They know the specific parts of the dish much like I would know the overall themes and ideas for a story or poem, but I could never really teach someone one perfect way of getting those ideas down on paper. In the same way, they don’t really measure their ingredients, but instead put them in as needed. It’s taken me years to get this close to the actual recipe. I have it written down, but it’s like trying to learn another language by reading it.
I’m close. So close.
Any self-respecting Mexican knows how to cook. My uncle could make chimichurri from scratch or whip up a caldo de rez to make you forgo vegetables for a month. My grandmother makes delicious dishes with everything from bell peppers to chicken. She’s like Midas with food.
While he was alive, I tried to replicate my grandfather’s recipe. Now, with him gone and only my memories and a piece of paper to guide me, I’ll keep trying to reach that pinnacle of flavor he created so many times for us on special occasions. It’s like kendo training… I’ll just keep going for the rest of my life, getting ever closer to that elusive perfection.
And I’m okay with that.
Years ago, I wrote a poem for my grandfather and his skills. I figured it was appropriate today. Scroll afterwards for the links, and I hope none of you did anything regrettable on Cinco de Mayo.
Dried leaves and sticks,
Crushed color and aroma
From plants I could never pronounce.
Papi kept them in plastic bags and jars,
Autumn in a pantry, an old hechicero’s2 alchemy.
He summoned a nation with each dish:
August heat, like the Tamaulipan desert,
Unyielding, like El Grito de Dolores3,
Or cool and green, like a Cuernavacan4 spring,
Subtle as a pretty morena’s5 wink.
One bite and you thought you’d die
From the cinnamon burn in your blood
And la lengua cortada6 would make you mute.
A bowl of pozole7 was a hundred miles of fields
And boiled muscles under the Aztec sun.
The heat in our tingling veins sang
A slow mariachi ballad,
The living history of our family,
And the old hechicero sat and listened,
While fragrant Mexican autumn filled the room.
1“Ahl-kee-MIS-tah”: Spanish for “alchemist”
2“Eh-CHi-SE-roh”: a sorcerer
3Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest in Mexico, gave what is known as “The Yell of Dolores.” On the morning of September 16, 1810, he rang the church bells and called on the people of Mexico to rise up against the Spanish, calling out “Mexicans, long live Mexico! Long Live the Virgin [Mary] of Guadalupe! Long Live Fernando VII! Death to the evil government!”
4The city of Cuernavaca is known as “The City of Eternal Spring” for its mild weather and seasonal rainfalls.
5Morena(o) is a term for someone who is darker skinned, and most likely has native Mexican blood in their heritage.
6“LEN-gwa cohr-TA-da” literately means “cut tongue.” It is an expression used to symbolize the feeling of very spicy meals on the tongue. Even people accustomed to spicy dishes reach their limit when they proclaim they have a “cut tongue.”
7“Po-SOH-leh” is a traditional Mexican dish, similar to a stew, made with cacahuacintle corn, pork, and guajillo peppers. It is often topped with radishes, lettuce, onion, lemon juice, dried oregano, and powdered chili. It has a very strong aroma and taste.
Link time! And yeah, the comic’s hilarious if you know Spanish. If enough people ask, I’ll translate it.
- Neil Gaiman accepted a speaking fee and got called out by a state representative… who promptly apologized for his insult because his mother made him.
- Flo, aka the girl from Progressive commercials, did a commercial that let her show off her other entertainment skills. The video is locked, but it’s interesting to read about the woman behind the advertisement.
- On this holy Friday… I give you 30 cosplay Slave Leia pictures.
- Within this case are the two paths to courage… which do you choose?
- Electronic paper has appeared in shows like Caprica and Firefly. Here’s a sneak peak at the real-life models.
- I think we found the source of the Playstation network problem…
- This is… by far… the SEXIEST thing you will EVER see.
- I wrote about Lady Gaga’s song, “Judas,” a few days ago, and she finally released the music video to go along with it. It’s, uhm… interesting.
- Amanda Palmer, awesome as ever, showing why the best music is not found on the radio. I have to say that I dig the music, even if it’s not the way I first heard her years ago.
- And finally, to get your weekend started right, I give you the most metal puppy EVAR!
March 19, 2011
My grandfather died, peacefully, in his sleep.
The last week was filled with tears, laughs, and family. My grandfather was fortunate enough to see his children, his grandchildren, and his great-granddaughter before finally closing his eyes for the last time.
But I won’t remember him as the man lying in bed for the last ten months. This past week, as bittersweet as it was to finally see him at peace, with no pain, will not be the memory I carry with me.
On Sunday, before the ambulance arrived to take him, I had a few moments and I gathered enough strength to say, “Papi, gracias por todo. Te quiero mucho.”
Papi, thank you for everything. I love you very much.
He looked up, and it was one of the few times I’ve ever seen him even tear up. He looked at me and said, “Todo eso fue de amor… Haz lo mismo en tu vida, y nos veremos despues.”
All of it was out of love… Do the same in your life, and we’ll meet again afterwards.
My grandfather was one of the toughest men I’ve ever known. I don’t mean that in hyperbole. He helped build the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, California, a bridge we always called “Papi’s Bridge” when we saw it. We still call it that if we see it in a movie.
He helped raise four children who went on to become teachers, businessmen, and who in turn have grandchildren who have gone on to travel the world, learn a total of five languages, work in film, government, education, public service, and business. Several years ago, though, Papi came home and told us he’d gotten his GED. We didn’t even know he’d been preparing for it. He was retired. He told us, matter-of-factly, that he did it to show all of us that nothing stood between us and achieving our dreams. If he could do it, we could do it
Papi was a cook. He could make carne asada so good we asked for it on special occasions. He knew a recipe for a chocolate cake that even people who didn’t like chocolate liked. If Aristotle is right and everything is a shadow of a perfect form, one perfect version of that thing, then my grandfather’s carne asada and his chocolate cake are the form of every other piece of meat and dessert.
My grandfather didn’t plan things so much as he just did them. I don’t mean he was impulse. Far from it, but when he set his mind to it, he could do anything. The first time he bowled, my cousins and I invited him to join us. We kids were having a blast when Papi went up and knocked over every pin. When he did it a second time, we accused him of having secretly played for years. Confused, he just said, “El chiste es que lanso la pelota y tumbo los pinos, verdad? Eso es lo que estoy haciendo.”
The point is to throw the ball and knock over the pins, right? That’s what I’m doing.
To him, there was no such thing as failure. “Pedro” is the Spanish form of “Peter,” which is usually translated as “rock.” My grandfather was one of the toughest, strongest men I’ve ever known. The doctor told him he had five months to live. That was eleven months ago. This week, the doctor said he had maybe three days. He stuck around for six, I’m sure just to show the doctor he was an idiot.
Despite his skill and roughness, he was first a family man.
When my sister and I were younger, we would get up early to watch cartoons. My grandfather always used to sit in a big recliner. It was his chair, his throne, and my sister and I got to sit on the armrests with him on Saturday mornings as we all watched Bugs Bunny cartoons. This man who worked with steel and could intimidate anyone if need be… watched cartoons with us on Saturday mornings.
Though he rarely said he loved anyone, everything he did, even his cold demeanor, was to teach us something. It was to teach us respect, to teach us how to stand up for ourselves, to show us that life goes on.
In the end, I heard him say, “Los quiero mucho.”
I love you all so much…
But we always knew. Being humble is not thinking less of yourself. Being humble means thinking of yourself less, and that’s what my grandfather did. Like he said, everything he did was for his family, out of love, and God help anyone who stood in this man’s way.
Nietzsche once said that anything done out of love is beyond good and evil. My grandfather was not particularly religious, though he was a man of strong faith in people and what they could do. He lived his life to give others the chance to achieve something greater than he ever could. His legacy lives in his family and the morals and drive he instilled in us. He was more than a superman. He was and will remain the standard by which we judge our own actions.
He taught me the meaning of love. He wished my fiancé and me a happy life together. Then, last night, before he took one final morphine nap, he asked my grandmother, “Ya ví a todos?”
Did I see everyone already?
My grandmother told him he had, and he smiled, just barely, and said, “Ya me voy a componer.”
I’ll be better soon, now.
Six hours later, with my grandmother at his side, he quietly passed. He held on, despite almost no lung capacity and a weak heart, just to make sure his family could see him one more time as they traveled over half the continent to get here.
He did it out of love.
Pedro Ramirez was a father, grandfather, friend, and the patriarch for my family. He’s lost a son, become an American, and argued until the last day. To me, he will always be Papi, a strong, gruff man who, despite his upbringing and tough life, used to laugh at Bugs Bunny with me.
I’m not sad for him, but I’ll miss him terribly.
April 21, 2010
I wanted to write about un-schooling. I wanted to comment on the unnecessary photoshopping jobs I saw earlier. I wanted to log onto YouTube and watch a cat do something stupid. I wanted to clear my mind.
But I think the universe hates me.
On April 19th, Becky Boy went and said something that actually had me shaking with rage. I thought the ambient hydrogen around me was going to fuse. The relevant portions are at 3:40-4:45 and 8:07.
I take pride in being able to present information, make a coherent argument, and do so with, hopefully, some semblance of wit. I’ve been called out on a few things, and sometimes I’ve been wrong. However, before I get to my actual argument… Beck, wherever you are, I want you listen closely.
Screw you and the high horse you rode in on.
…Actually, I’d derive more pleasure if the horse screwed you instead.
Okay, so what was so wrong with that clip? Well, I could go on about how he categorized Nazis as Right-wing when not too long ago he was adamant they were Leftists. I could point out that the media didn’t call the protestors Tea Partiers as he claims. I could also go into a LOT of detail on how progressives and liberals and socialists are not the same as Nazis. My main problem is that he equated the National Council for La Raza with MS-13 and called them racist. For those who don’t know much about these groups, let’s have a little history lesson with Uncle Michel.
The NCLR started during the Civil Rights Movement, but, since media coverage focused primarily on African American protestors, Hispanics were generally on the fringe of the movement. We lacked support structures like the NAACP and African-American colleges. After investigations by Herman Gallegos, Dr. Julian Samora, and Dr. Ernesto Galarza, those initial activists created the Southwest Council of La Raza which, in 1978, became the National Council of La Raza. The organization is now the largest Hispanic rights advocacy group in the country.
Over the years, the NCLR has been criticized for being racist, encouraging Hispanic separatism, and otherwise undermining US sovereignty.
And now Beck’s put them on the same level as MS-13 and racists like neo-Nazis.
And who are MS-13, you may ask?
Let me put it this way. Think of the most hardcore, in-your-face, badass thug you can. You got it? Okay. MS-13 is the gang that guys like THAT tell campfire stories about to scare each other.
Mara Salvatrucha, otherwise known as MS-13, started as a paramilitary organization in El Salvador. The gang trained as a guerilla force and is an actual national security problem in Central America, targeting reporters, government officials, and anyone who gets in their way. Today, they are involved in the cartel wars in Mexico, too. Just to give you an idea of how violent MS-13 can be, these are guys who prefer to use machetes when killing someone. Not guns. Machetes. Dismembered corpses are a favorite calling card of theirs. They do things to their enemies that would make the Marquis de Sade gag.
Quick warning. This video has some violent images.
Is the NCLR on the same level as this gang?
Beck thinks so. He’s not the first. Over the years, even a member of Congress has accused the group of being in league with people who want to take back land seized from Mexico. They say that NCLR helps illegal immigrants.
Son of wrong.
But the biggest selling point for paranoid wing-nuts, the one that gets people like Beck all hot and moist at the thought of some Mexican invasion, is the last part of NCLR’s name.
He said it means “The Race,” and, as always, Glenn manages to avoid using any part of his brain past his ears.
In Spanish, as in English as most people who passed grade-school will tell you, words can have multiple meanings. “La Raza” can be translated as “The Race,” but only if you ignore the origin of the term as the NCLR and other groups use it. “La Raza” means “The People.” It was originally coined in the early 20th century by philosopher José Vasconcelos in the book La Raza Cosmica, or The Cosmic People. In his book, he talked about a future race that would be an amalgamation of all the races in the world. Vasconcelos singled out the mixed races in some parts of the Americas as a first step towards that new race because they were already mixing both native and European cultures, reaching a balance between the two.
Hispanics, he argued, also had traces of blood from people all over the world (White European, African, Asian-descended Native Americans, etc), making them the first step towards this genetically unified humanity.
Even more, the full term, “La Raza Cosmica,” refers to the ability of this future race to spread knowledge and bring people together, to usher in a new age. It’s about inclusion, not isolationism. No one is a member of La Raza. It’s an ideal that includes everyone but has not been achieved yet.
So was Glenn able to do the most basic thing and ASK someone what it meant? Did he Google it? Check Wikipedia? Ask a fifth-grader?
Instead, he placed the NCLR in the same league as drug-runners and sadists, as a group trying to bring down America.
They’re a civil rights group who help Hispanics, whites, Asians, blacks, and anyone who needs it. They send kids to school. Fund clinics. When you have nothing and can’t do it on your own, you need help. Although, given how Beck feels about helping others…
I keep going after Beck, who apparently wants to return this country to what it was in the 60′s, and others like him because this kind of rhetoric hurts. I’ve had to explain to people why I know Obama was born here. I’ve had to explain that Mexico doesn’t want to invade the United States. I’ve had people ask me if I’m actually here legally.
And I blame these wild conspiracy theories.
So, if you’re reading this and you don’t count yourself as Hispanic, I want to think about La Raza. The People. It’s about getting past race and bringing everyone together. Shades of brown, white, Asian, African, European… It’s a lofty goal, perhaps utopian in its unatainability, but I believe, truly believe, that the basic intention of getting past race is good.
Come on. You’re all invited. If you wish to be, you ARE La Raza.